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AStudyofthePressuremeterModulusandIts
ComparisontotheElasticModulusofSoil
A.Fawaz*1,F.Hagechehade2,E.Farah3
UniversitLibanaise,InstitutUniversitairedeTechnologie(Saida)&EcoleDoctoraledesSciencesetTechnologies,
CentredeModlisation,PRASE,Beyrouth,Liban
1,2

UniversitLibanaise,EcoleDoctoraledesSciencesetTechnologies,CentredeModlisation,PRASE,Beyrouth,
Liban
3

*1

alifawaz2014@gmail.com;2fadihagechehade@hotmail.com;3elias_farah@live.com

Received4July2013;Accepted11December2013;Published25March2014
2014ScienceandEngineeringPublishingCompany

Abstract
Pressuremeter tests are conducted in many types of soil, in
boreholesdrilledatdifferentlocationsandtoseveraldepths.
Samples of encountered soil are taken and tested in the
laboratory.Numericalsimulationsofthepressuremetertests
are performed with Plaxis software. The results allow the
determination of the elastic modulus of soil and the
comparison to the corresponding pressuremeter modulus
measuredduringtheinsitutests.Foreverytypeofsoil,the
variationoftheratiobetweenbothmoduliisdetermined.
Keywords
Pressuremeter;Soil;NumericalSimulation;Modulus;Borehole

Introduction
The pressuremeter test was developed by Louis
Menard in 1957. This insitu test provides the
measurementofstressstrainresponseofsoils.Itisalso
used to evaluate the bearing capacity of soil
foundationsandtheexpectedsettlements(Baguelinet
al. 1978). The pressurevolume curve obtained from
this test is used to compute the pressuremeter
modulus EM. It is determined on the quasilinear part
ofthiscurvewithinanintervaldefinedbytwospecific
pressure values: P0which is roughly equivalent to the
horizontalearthpressureatrestandthepressuremeter
creeppressurePf.However,thismodulusdiffersfrom
the elastic modulus E which is a principal soil
parameter.Thepressuremetermodulusvalueandthe
deduction of the elastic modulus from the
pressuremeter test remain objects of discussion and
researches (Gambin et al.1996). The pressuremeter
modulus has been related empirically to the elastic
modulus of the soil as EM/E = , (Menard, 1965), in
which is termed by Menard as the rheological
coefficientandhasavaluebetween0and1.

Combarieu and Canpa (2001) mentioned that it is


slightly complex to derive a modulus from the re
sponseofunloadreloadcyclesinarealpressuremeter
test. Goh et al. (2012) proposed a correlation between
thepressuremetermodulusandtheSPTNvalue.
The development of numerical methods allowed
looking for other ways to extract Youngs modulus
from pressuremeter tests (Biarez et al. 1998) and
deduce the shear resistance of soil (Shahrour et al.,
1995;Fawazetal.,2002).
In this paper, we present the results of a series of in
situ pressuremeter tests at different depths. Soil
samples are taken and tested in the laboratory.
Pressuremeter tests are numerically simulated using
Plaxis software to deduce the elastic modulus and
compared to the pressuremeter one. The numerical
results are compared to the experimental laboratory
onesfromonehand,andtoanalyticalstudiesfromthe
other hand. These results are finally grouped
according to the soil type, in order to propose a ratio
between the pressuremeter modulus and the elastic
oneforthesoiltypestested.
Methodology
Inordertocovervarioustypesofsoil,10boreholesare
drilled at 3 different sites in Lebanon and to several
depths. Pressuremeter tests are performed in these
boreholesat2mintervals,andsoilsamplesaretaken
andtestedinthelaboratory.Experimentalpressureme
ter tests are numerically simulated using Plaxis
software. Figure 1 shows the geometry model, the
boundary conditions and the appropriate mesh used
in the numerical study that simulates the real insitu

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conditions.Themodelhasawidthof7m.Thepressure
isappliedatthesamedepthoftheexperimentaltestto
simulate the pressuremeter probe which is taken at 7
mfromthebottomofthemodel.Sincetheproblemis
axisymmetric, a twodimensional model is suitable to
simulatetheinsitupressuremetertest.
Theaimofthisnumericalstudyistheidentificationof
the soil parameters using experimental test results.
This involves choosing, as an initial step, the first
enteredvaluesofsoilparametersaccordingtothesoil
type, and changing gradually these parameters, to
reproduce by this numerical analysis, a calculated
pressuremetercurvecloseaspossibletothemeasured
experimental one. This procedure allows the
determination of the soil parameters: The elastic or
Youngs modulus E, the cohesion C and the internal
frictionangle.

clayandgravelsandcobblesoflimestone,andanother
layer of gravelly marl intercalated by sand, and by
somegravellysandandclaylayers.TheboreholeN5
indicatesthattheterrainiscomposedofagravellyclay,
marlandgravellymarllayers.Thesoilextractedfrom
theboreholeN6showstheexistenceofagravellyand
sandyclaylayerandtwolayersofclayandsand.The
boreholeN7revealsthatthesoilisprincipallyformed
byaclayeysandsandgravelslayer.
The second site is located at Bekaa, Lebanon. Two
series of pressuremeter tests are executed at this site
proceedingfrom2mdowntothedepthof26and28m
respectively.Thesummarytestsforboreholedrilledin
thissitedetectthepredominanceofaclaylayer.
TABLE1DISTRIBUTIONOFSOILLAYERSWITHDEPTHANDSOIL
USCSCLASSIFICATION

Bore
holes

N1

N2

N3

N4

FIGURE1GEOMETRYofAXISYMMETRICMODEL

Experimental Tests
Beforecomputingnumericallytheelasticmodulus,we
present as follows the results of experimental tests
from 10 boreholes executed in 3 different sites. Soil
samples also taken from these boreholes have been
tested in the laboratory to deduce the classification of
soil layers according to the Unified Soil Classification
System(USCS)asdescribedintableI.Resultsofiden
tification tests such as Sieve analysis and Atterberg
limitsprovideanideaabouttherangesofCand.
Seven series of pressuremeter tests were realized in a
mountain site near of Daher Elbaidar in Lebanon at 2
m intervals from the depth of 2 m toa depth varying
from 21 to 48 m respectively. The first four boreholes
show the existence of two principal layers: a mix of

N5

Depth

Identification
(USCS)

Layers

0to10m

Mixofclay,gravelsand
cobblesoflimestone

10to21m

CL

21to25m

GC

25to33.5m

CL

33.5to53m

SC,SMorGM

0to10m

10to16m

CL

16to17m

ML

Sand

17to50m

CL

Gravellymarl

50to54m

SWSMandSC

Gravellysand

0to6m

6to8m

CL

8to17m

GC

17to21m

CL

0to9m

9to33.5m

CL

33.5mto37.5m

SCSM

37.5mto43m

CL

0to9m
9mto24.5m

CL

0to6m
6to8m
N6

N8

N9
N10

Mixofclay,gravelsand
cobblesoflimestone

Gravellymarl

Gravellymarl
Sand
Clay
Gravellyclay
Marlandgravellymarl
Gravellyandsandyclay

CL

8to26m
26to28m

N7

Gravellymarl

ML

28to28.5m

SC

0to15m

SC

15to24m

CL

24to38m

GWGC

0to8m

8to14.7m

CL

14.7to18.5m

SC

18.5to26m

CL

0to5.5m

5.5to13m

CLML

13to25m

CL

2to17m

SM

Clay
Gravellymarl
Sand
Clayeysandsand
gravels

Clay

Clay
Sand

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Depth
z=2m
z=12m
z=16m
z=18m
z=20m
z=26m

Depth
z=4m
z=8m
z=12m
z=16m
z=18m

marl soil), N3 (gravelly marl soil), N6 (sandy and


gravelly clay soil) and N10 (sandy soil). Table 1
summarizes the description and the classification of
thesoillayersencounteredinthetenboreholes.
Numerical Analysis
Applying the methodology of the numerical analysis
describedabove,wehavesimulatedthepressuremeter
test for the ten boreholes at different depths. As soils
behavior,wehaveusedaMohrCoulombmodelwith
a Poisson ratio = 0.33. Three parameters are
unknown: the elastic modulus E, the cohesion C and
thefrictionangle.
Starting with a first combination of these three
parametersaccordingtothesoiltypeatthetestdepth,
thepressuremetermodulusEMcanbeusedasthefirst
input.

z=20m

Depth
z=2m
z=8m
z=12m
z=24m
z=30m

z=12mExperience
z=12mCalculation(E=22.5MPa,C=188kPa,=25)
z=18mExperience
z=18mCalculation(E=18MPa,C=180kPa,=20)
z=20mExperience
z=20mCalculation(E=13.3MPa,C=108kPa,=19)
z=22mExperience
z=22mCalculation(E=36MPa,C=240kPa,=20)

z=4mExperience
z=4mCalculation(E=14MPa,C=240kPa,=1)
z=10mExperience
z=10mCalculation(E=15.8MPa,C=295kPa,=5)
z=20mExperience
z=20mCalculation(E=25MPa,C=550kPa,=4)

Depth
z=2m
z=4m
z=8m
z=10m

FIGURE2EVOLUTIONOFEXPERIMENTALPRESSUREMETER
CURVESWITHDEPTHS

The third site is located in Beirut, Lebanon where a


sandy soil is encountered. Figure 2 represents
respectively the evolution of experimental pressure
volumecurveswithdepthsforboreholesN1(gravelly

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determinethemechanicalparametersofsoil.
Different rheological laws have been developed to
describe thebehavior ofsoils around the pressureme
ter.ThestudyofCombarieu(1995)basedonPasturels
formulahasevolvedatheoreticalrelationbetweenthe
limitpressurePlandsoilparametersE,,Cand.In
caseofcohesiveandgranularsoils(Canddifferent
to0)thatrelationis:
P1 c cot

z=4mExperience
z=4mCalculation(E=17.6MPa,C=320kPa,=21)
z=14mExperience
z=14mCalculation(E=97.7MPa,C=680kPa,=10)
z=28mExperience
z=28mCalculation(E=18.5MPa,C=110kPa,=30)

sin

1 sin
E
( P 0 c cot )(1 sin )

2(1 v)( P 0 c cot ) sin

Accordingtothisformulaandusingthevaluesofthe
pressure at rest P0 and limit pressure Pl determined
from the test insitu and elastic modulus obtained in
the numerical analysis, we calculate the cohesion and
thefrictionangle.
TABLE2EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICALRESULTSFOR
SANDYANDGRAVELLYCLAY

SandyandgravellyClay
EM
(MPa)

z=2mExperience
z=2mCalculation(E=45MPa,C=20kPa,=35)
z=3.5mExperience
z=3.5mCalculation(E=40MPa,C=15kPa,=38)
z=5mExperience
z=5mCalculation(E=20MPa,C=10kPa,=30)

Figure3showssomeexamplesofcomparisonbetween
the calculated pressuremeter curve and the
experimentaloneatsomedepthsfortheboreholeN1,
N3, N6and N10 respectively, notingthat, the point
(P0,V0)istakenasoriginoftheaxis.
Thecalculatedcurvesareclosetotheexperimentalone
to allow the deduction of the characterization of the
soillayersandthedeterminationofthethreemechanical
parameters: E, C, and . Noting that changing the
values of the cohesion and the friction angle in an
oppositeandremarkablemannerleadstoanumerical
curve that doesnt match the experimental one. In
ordertocomparenumericalandanalyticalresults,itis
essential to mention the theoretical study used to

10

Analytical
results
EM/Pl EM/E
E
C
C

(Mpa) (kPa)
(kPa)

Numericalresults

159

672

5.5

90

115

5.95

0.73

11

165

2200

12.4

430 10 539

14

5.00

0.89

40

676

4300

63

800 20 604

19

9.30

0.63

14.1

200

1804

17.5

320 21 232

18

7.82

0.81

24

350

2307

28.1

150 25 147

22

10.40 0.85

18

300

2500

20

290 25 278

25

7.20

0.90

14

300

2306

15

300 30 271

28

6.07

0.93

FIGURE3EXPERIMENTALANDNUMERICALPRESSURE
VOLUMECURVESATDIFFERENTDEPTHS

We change the values of these parameters to


reproduce by the numerical way the experimental
pressuremeter curve. Then specialattention is paid to
thatthetwoslopesoftheexperimentalandnumerical
curvesintheelasticphaseshouldbesimilar.

P0
Pl
(kPa) (kPa)

TABLE3EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICAL
RESULTSFORCLAY

Clay
EM
(MPa)

Numerical
Analytical
results
results
P0
Pl
EM/Pl EM/E
(kPa) (kPa)
E
C
C(kPa)
(Mpa) (kPa)

100

1108

14

240

240

76

960

8.5

220

242

8.12 0.64
7.29 0.82

11

276

2200

15.8

295

391

13

5.00 0.70

52

100

4400

95

680

685

11.82 0.55

32

299

3980

40

480

705

12

8.04 0.80

22

190

3150

25

550

710

6.98 0.88

27

165

1720

38

195

218

15.70 0.71

63.5

400

4100

73

650

15.49 0.87

85

400

4400

97.7

700

680 10

539

10 19.32 0.87

67

627

5.3

36

17

164

12

6.38 0.75

16

186

890

18

38

84

17.98 0.89

12

57

1550

14

180

385

7.74 0.86

11

81

1550

16

148

375

7.10 0.69

14

87

1450

17

145

342

9.66 0.82

11

576

2100

13

180

406

5.24 0.85

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TABLE4:EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICALRESULTSFORCLAYEYSANDSANDGRAVELS

Clayeysandandgravels
EM(MPa)

Numericalresults

Analyticalresults

P0(kPa)

Pl(kPa)

EM/Pl

EM/E

1.24

68

3.89

147

16

3.10

0.86

15

6.44

1.39

61

0.95

47

17

4.60

0.93

3.7

157

10

100

17

86

16

5.29

0.90

24

244

23

6.52

0.80

114.5

980

4200

120

176

13

17

400

2410

18.5

110

30

32

17

27.26

0.95

129

30

7.05

48

434

4000

51

180

25

400

0.92

20

12.00

0.94

EM/Pl

EM/E

E(Mpa)

C(kPa)

C(kPa)

400

1.45

120

19

103

604

4.1

140

20

61

302

1.5

60

17

700

4.1

175

1533

12.5

183

TABLE5EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICALRESULTSFORMARL

Marl
EM(MPa)

P0(kPa)

Pl(kPa)

14

278

40

180

41
13

Numericalresults

Analyticalresults

E(Mpa)

C(kPa)

C(kPa)

2150

16

160

16

291

20

6.51

0.88

2690

48

138

22

241

21

14.87

0.83

864

4290

50.2

450

17

342

15

9.56

0.82

104

1522

13.1

85

23

232

24

8.54

0.99

EM/Pl

EM/E
0.95

TABLE6EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICALRESULTSFORGRAVELLYMARL

Gravellymarl
Numericalresults

Analyticalresults

EM(MPa)

P0(kPa)

Pl(kPa)

21.3

148

2100

22.5

188

25

238

26

10.14

5.3

253

1000

5.5

110

22

103

17

5.30

0.96

17.7

257

2000

18

180

20

221

21

8.85

0.98

13.3

263

1480

13.3

108

19

131

19

8.99

1.00

29.6

440

2600

30

210

25

238

16

11.38

0.99

14.6

456

2250

15

110

18

217

20

6.49

0.97

14

448

2250

15

220

18

250

18

6.22

0.93

18.9

348

1960

20

225

16

201

15

9.64

0.95

20

450

2250

20

185

21

170

19

8.89

1.00

83

934

3550

83

280

14

197

10

23.38

1.00

31.3

462

2550

34

95

12

160

18

12.27

0.92

23.28

262

1960

40

188

14

180

13

11.88

0.58

20.59

270

2096

24.8

255

294

11

9.82

0.83

5.36

150

1412

5.6

170

15

400

17

3.80

0.96

25.85

360

2398

28

280

10

300

12

10.78

0.92

28

500

3906

35

650

667

10

7.17

0.80

19.45

800

3146

21.3

200

20

182

20

6.18

0.91

130.4

852

4900

142.8

86

250

13

26.61

0.91

EM/Pl

EM/E

E(Mpa)

C(kPa)

C(kPa)

TABLE7EXPERIMENTAL,NUMERICALANDANALYTICALRESULTSFORSAND

Sand
EM(MPa)

P0(kPa)

Pl(kPa)

12

200

23
26

Numericalresults

Analyticalresults

E(Mpa)

C(kPa)

C(kPa)

1200

45

20

35

13

20

10.00

0.27

100

1100

40

10

28

14

29

20.91

0.58

100

1300

40

15

38

14

18

20.00

0.65

18

100

1200

20

10

30

31

38

15.00

0.90

77

150

Notreached

120

36

45

0.64

112

146

Notreached

250

20

40

0.45

11

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the numerical simulations of the pressuremeter test,


andalsoareductionofthisintervalforsometypesof
soilshasbeenoccurredasfollows:

Results
Allresultshavebeenregroupedaccordingtosoiltype
encountered in the 3 tested sites. We distinguish 6
types: clay, sandy and gravelly clay, clayey sand and
gravels,gravellymarl,marlandsand.Tables2,3,4,5,
6 and 7 show experimental, numerical and analytical
resultsgroupedbythetypeofmaterialsinadditionto
the ratio of the pressuremeter modulus over the limit
pressureandtheelasticmodulus.
Synthesis of the Results

Clay:0.55<<1

Sandyandgravellyclay:0.6<<1

Clayeysandandgravels:0.8<<1

Gravellymarl:0.55<<1

Marl:0.8<<1

Sand:0.25<<1

Figure4representsthevariationofthepressuremeter
modulusinfunctionofthenetlimitpressurePl*which
is the difference between the limit pressure and the
horizontal earth pressure at rest. It is clear that EM
variesgraduallywiththelimitpressure.

The tables shown above summarize all results


obtainedatthreedifferentsitesregroupedaccordingto
thetypeofsoils.MenardproposedtheratioofEM/Eis
between0and1,thisratioisretrievedbytheresultsof

FIGURE4VARIATIONOFEmINFUNCTIONOFPlP0

12

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FIGURE5VARIATIONOFEm/EINFUNCTIONOFPlP0

Figure 5 shows the evolution of the ratio EM/E of the


pressuremetermodulusovertheelasticoneinfunction
of the net limit pressure Pl*. These curves confirm the
classificationlistedabove.
Figure6representsthevariationoftheelasticmodulus
,wherecand
Ewiththeshearresistance
arethesoilparameterscomputednumericallyand
is the vertical stress. Figure 7 shows the evolution of
thelimitpressurewiththeshearresistance.Eachcurve

correspondstotheappropriatesoiltype.
The elastic modulus introduced in the computations
canbecalculatedbyconsideringthesoilelasticitywith
a lower bound deformation magnitude. On the
numerical pressuremeter curves, the moduli were
computedasiftheyweremeasuredinrealtests.They
correspond to a deformation magnitude ranging
between102and101.
Soil samples tested in the laboratory are at some

13

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depthssubjectedtotheshearboxtesttodeterminethe
shearresistanceofsoil.Thevaluesofthefrictionangle
computed numerically are very close even similar to
those measured in the laboratory. The calculated
values of cohesion differ sometimes from those
determined from the shear box test due to the
disturbance of tested soil samples. Soil parameters
calculated using the analytical method and the elastic
modulus calculated numerically are close to the
numerical ones. This confirms the validity of the
proposednumericalmethodology.

elastic or Youngs modulus. In this paper, several


geotechnicalstudieshavebeenpresentedinthreesites
withdifferentsoiltypes.Basedoninsitutestsresults,
numericalsimulationshavebeendevelopedtoextract
soil parameters especially the elastic modulus
compared to the pressuremeter one. The interval of
valuesoftherheologicalcoefficient=EM/Eproposed
byMenardhasbeenretrievedandreducedforthesoil
typestested.
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FIGURE6VARIATIONOFELASTICMODULUSWITH
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